The New Killer Apps: Teamwork and Weak Signal Detection Lessons From the Military

Updated: Nov 15, 2019



When I left active duty four years ago, I had to basically beg for a job as a Scrum Master simply because I did not have “experience” coaching Agile teams. I soon realized that my experiences in the Navy were far more valuable than any certification on the market.


Over the past four years, I’ve coached or trained more than 20 companies, from technology startups to the largest Agile transformation in the US, I’ve been a keynote speaker at several global conferences, and worked with leading thought leaders in Scrum, Kanban, Lean, the Toyota Production System, and complexity science. And this year, I met with more than 70 leading academics, executives, and high-performing teams to find out what actually scales when it comes to creating organizational agility and safety.


One of the biggest mistakes industry is making at the moment is ignoring the value that veterans bring to filling the #1 skills gap in the world: non-technical or teamwork skills. These non-technical or social skills are the very skills needed to create organizational agility.   

Read more in my new InfoQ article: The New Killer Apps: Teamwork and Weak Signal Detection Lessons from the Military.


Key Takeaways

  • We can all learn leadership and teamwork skills from unusual contexts: the military.

  • The military knows how to turn ordinary people into exceptional teams, while industry struggles to find extraordinary people only to be part of ordinary teams.

  • Thank TOPGUN and the U.S. Navy for advancing the science of teamwork.

  • Teams are complex adaptive systems where the quality of interactions is what turns a team of experts into an expert team.

  • Our humanness causes us to miss weak signals. Look to the military to find ways to overcome the complex problems introduced by our humanness.


Brian “Ponch” Rivera is a recovering naval aviator, founder of AGLX, and the creator of the ZONEFIVE™ Team Performance Indicator. Contact Brian at brian@aglx.consulting.

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